Gunnery Sgt. Christopher List tore apart a motor as a 4-year-old, constructed a go-kart at the age of 6 and rebuilt a car engine from scratch when he was 15.
Now he is rebuilding the way systems operate in the Marine Corps.
“I love figuring things out,” said List, a maintenance chief with 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “With the new, innovative mindset of the Marine Corps, it’s easier to suggest things and try them out. It’s a different culture than I grew up with, so it’s refreshing to get out of your comfort zone and use your mind to make improvements.”
List created a system simplifying the process of sorting equipment. His idea fills a gap between supply and layette bins using Microsoft Excel. A layette bin is used for storing and accounting for equipment parts before use. It allows maintenance clerks to return to their original mission and help the mechanics do the same.
“The disconnect is that maintenance clerks, layettes clerks and (Marine Corps Maintenance Management System) clerks operate on document numbers and (Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps) doesn’t,” said List. “When an item is scanned into the system, it gets assigned a different document number. The maintenance clerks had to go line-by-line through a massive report to find an 18-digit document number.”
GCSS-MC is a web-based system designed to manage and maintain equipment through a seamless database, according to the official Navy website. MIMMS is a set of manual procedures by which personnel and materiel maintenance of ground equipment is controlled, according to the official Marine Corps website.
List explained that the pieces get lost in the system, so he created a program to assign a layette bin to certain service requests. The program then marries that up to the document numbers and allows the clerk to use a Universal Product Code scan gun to enter it into the system. The program helps determine where the item goes in the layette room and continues to be tracked to ease the transition.
The scripting and writing of the coding for the program were designed solely by List, while the testing was done by maintenance clerks. A few of the Marines suggested visual aids, so List added the ability to scan the computer screen to make the process more efficient.
“During a span of four to six months, I would give the scan gun to the Marines and see if they could break the system,” said List. “As we were going along, we’d discover bugs or errors; then I’d go back in and tweak something until it was useful on a day-to-day basis.”
His idea came as part of an innovation challenge offered by 2nd MLG. The purpose of the innovation challenge is to solicit ground-breaking ideas to influence the future of the Marine Corps. Challenge winners can win cash and also have the opportunity to directly partner with Headquarters Marine Corps offices to further develop their ideas into reality.
His newly-created system allows the Marines to dive deeper and become proficient in other aspects of their field, said List. He said that although some systems are in place, there are ways to amend them to align with current technology.
“I was given wonderful liberty to revise the system,” List said. “I believe you should perform
your mission inside your abilities at every opportunity.”